How To Make the Most of University Summer

students vacationing
June 2024 by


If you’re reading this after finishing your last end-of-year exam, congratulations – you’ve made it! With another university year under your belt, it’s time to take off your study hat for a few months and relax… and with almost 12 weeks off over your student summer break, this is the perfect time for it. 

Whether you’re going back home or spending your summer holidays on campus, making the most of your university summer is important; not only have you earned some time to relax but there’s no other time in your life when you’ll have three months off in one go! 

So, to help you make the most of this period, we’ve come up with a multitude of great summer break ideas for university students, including how to travel abroad as a student on a budget, how to get a part-time summer job to earn some cash, and even how you can use this time to get a head start on your next year at university.

Do UK universities have a summer semester?

In the UK, universities traditionally follow a three-period system or ‘trimester’ calendar which includes Autumn Term, Spring Term, and Summer Term. You might have seen some universities also refer to these periods as ‘semesters.’ 

Autumn Term typically runs from September to December and includes Fresher’s Week, while Spring Term usually takes place between January to March. After the Easter break, the final semester runs between April and June.

How long is summer break university UK?

Students usually get between 12-14 weeks off over the summer. This summer break is the longest university holiday period; Christmas break at universities in the UK traditionally lasts anywhere from 3-5 weeks, much like Easter break for the majority of places, too.

How do I prepare for university in summer?

With almost three months off, the summer holidays are the perfect time to get a head start on the next year of university. If you’re going into first year, there are tons of ways to prepare for university over the summer as a fresher, while returning students can do the following things to give themselves the best start possible:

  • Get organised

    No doubt you’ve heard the saying a tidy space for a tidy mind before. Well, it’s true! By having a big clearout and organising your living and working space, you can increase productivity, creativity and even your quality of sleep. 

    Get rid of any old materials from past exams to make way for new information for the year ahead – however, don’t get rid of absolutely everything; you never know when those notes from first year will come in handy.

  • Research the syllabus 

    The modules you opt for make a massive difference to your university study experience. Choosing the wrong ones will not just make your degree less interesting, but you might miss out on gaining relevant skills needed for your chosen career going forward. 

    By spending a few hours this summer researching the syllabus for the upcoming year and deciding which modules you want to sign up for, you can make sure you go into the first semester excited to get back into learning – which is, after all, what university is for!

  • Make a start on your reading list

    You should be well-versed in just how quickly university can fly by… and how deadlines can suddenly come back around! By making a start on your reading list over the summer holidays you can save yourself having to slog through all the materials at the start of semester one, and instead use your Reading Week in October to start preparing for assessments. 

    If you haven’t got your reading list yet, you should be able to find it online by searching for your module on your university portal or webpage.

  • Update your CV and LinkedIn profile 

    Whatever stage of your university you’re in, keeping your CV and LinkedIn profile regularly updated bodes well for when you begin job hunting – whether that’s a part-time role alongside your studies or applying for a graduate position near the end of the year. 

    Updating these two things on the go is so much easier than having to sit down for hours wracking your brains about that one job you did all those years ago. If it’s been a while since you looked at your CV and need some guidance on what to include, most universities have advice online on how to make your CV stand out against the rest.

  • Sort out your student budget

    If you found it hard to stick to your budget and manage your student loan last year, summer is the perfect time to make a better plan going forward. 

    By now you should have a rough idea of exactly what you’re spending your money on, so you can work backwards on how much disposable income you can play with in semester one. Many students also use this time to get a part-time job for a few months and pad out their budget even more.

  • Begin your dissertation

    Calling all final years! The dissertation stress is real, and the sooner you get started on this mammoth project the better. Indeed, the earlier you start thinking about your dissertation, the more successful it’s likely to be. Some simple ways to make a start on this project that don’t require too much thinking but will definitely pay dividends include:

    • Consider which aspects of your course you’ve enjoyed the most so far.
    • Begin brainstorming some potential topics for your dissertation.
    • Do some further reading on the subjects you’re interested in.
    • Research the latest academic articles to spark some ideas.

What to do in the summer break at university?

While preparing for the next year of university is crucial for a seamless transition back into studying, it’s also important to enjoy the summer holidays for exactly what they are: three months off from academia! If you’re wondering how to spend your summer break at university, consider making the following plans:

  • Go travelling

    There won’t be many other times in your life when you’ll have three whole months off… and this is exactly why so many students use their summer break to go travelling! Exploring new cultures and destinations can not just provide you with valuable life experiences, but also help you expand your social sphere and meet new people abroad. After all, there’s nothing better than having a friend with a house in a hot country. 

    If you’re worried about funds, there are plenty of ways to keep costs down and travel somewhere amazing on a student budget:

    • Use Skyscanner and Google Flights to find cheap flights and set up price alerts to keep an eye out for when your flight gets more expensive.
    • Check out if it’s cheaper to book two one-way flights with two different airline providers than one return journey.
    • Search ‘everywhere’ for flights rather than one specific destination, and be flexible with dates and times.
    • Consider flying from the next big city close to you for cheaper deals. 
    • Explore Europe on the cheap with interrailing and switch expensive flights for cheaper train journeys.
  • Work abroad

    Another way to travel cheaply as a student is by working abroad. There are tons of great placements for students looking to spend their summer a bit more exotic, and make some extra cash while there! 

    If you fancy working with children in a summer camp abroad, why not check out Camp America or other programmes in the States that are looking for people with skills in sports, arts and crafts, and even drama! For students with language skills or a TEFL qualification, teaching English abroad is another great option – as is working as an au pair for a few months!

  • Check out the UK festival scene

    If you’re looking for an adventure a little closer to home, there are plenty of amazing festivals across the UK worth checking out. From big league events like Glastonbury and Leeds, to alternative festivals like Boomtown and Parklife, there are events for every music taste and every vibe. 

    Working at these festivals is also an option and an easy way to bag a free ticket and meet other students looking to enjoy the atmosphere on the cheap. You might even travel from festival to festival, having fun in the sun and making some extra cash as you go…

  • Get a part-time job

    Make your time off as fruitful as possible by getting a part-time summer job and putting some extra cash away for your next year at university. 

    Believe it or not, many students find themselves getting bored with three whole months of nothing to do, so a part-time job is a great way to get out of the house and line your wallet. You’ll also meet lots of other students spending part of their holidays earning some extra dollars, be it working in a bar, cafe or even a summer event like the Edinburgh Fringe.

  • Begin volunteering 

    If you don’t fancy a summer job but still want some professional experience, why not start volunteering? You can help out the local community by volunteering at your nearby charity shop or searching for community service projects to get involved with. 

    Volunteering is also a great opportunity to try a professional line of work without permanent commitment so you can gain a better idea of what you want to do after graduating, not to mention gain some transferable skills while you’re at it.

  • Learn new skills

    Last but not least, use all your free time during the summer to learn new skills that will strengthen your job applications – and demonstrate your passion for the industry. If there’s a particular skill that you don’t yet have in your repertoire or one that needs a little more work, these three months offer a great chance to become more proficient at it. 

    You can look at job profiles for roles of interest to see which skills you might be missing, and identify which skills recruiters are looking for the most. These might be anything from coding, website design, blogging, or another form of industry-standard software. 

All that’s left to say is, enjoy your time off!

From everyone at Ivory Research, we hope you have a great summer break. This is the time to truly kick back and relax, after all, you’ve earned it. 

See you next year!



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